Following on from last month’s look into the Covid Challenges We Need to Talk About More, we wanted to bring you part two of our in-depth series into the issues that aren’t being talked about as much as they probably should be. By helping to build spaces in which we can talk about the tough stuff or shine a light where it’s needed, we can improve the experience of those who are suffering in a different way.
With the substantial numbers of people who have successfully recovered from Covid-19, it can be easy to forget the very real struggles being faced by those who are now affected by ‘long covid’. Typically found in younger patients, including those with initially mild symptoms, this condition is still surrounded in mystery with varying symptoms that range from persistent, to chronic to crippling. Currently, there isn’t a set pattern for long covid and studies are continuing into its source and treatment options, including a new program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre to provide clinical care. Typically though, long covid is seen in patients who retain or develop symptoms at least four to eight weeks after initial infection. They usually experience extreme fatigue and breathing issues that severely impact their ability to tackle normal everyday tasks. Other potential symptoms have included a sustained inability to taste or smell, short-term memory loss, and trouble focusing.
What you can do: You should definitely consider getting help from your local medical team, especially as they can give you advice, and updates for your employer, on your capabilities moving forward. If you feel up to it, you could also help with the vital work being done by the researchers, like those at BIDM; sharing your story could help them increase their understanding and track results on how best to treat and cure it.
Obviously, the most profound impact of Covid-19 has been the tragic loss of life. For those family members and loved ones left behind, their pain has been increased by an unusual process dominated by separation, helplessness, and a suspension of regular mourning practices. Grieving is hard at the best of times, and the pandemic was pretty close to the worst of times. Most people weren’t able to be near their loved ones when they passed, the lucky ones forced to say their goodbyes via i-pads. There were also issues on holding funerals or memorials or shivas, often preventing people from experiencing the routines that help them process their grief. The collective atmosphere has also made things difficult, where loved ones can feel that their grief is minimized when measured against the overwhelming amounts of collective suffering and loss of life.
What can you do: The important thing is to remember that your grief is important and shouldn’t be overshadowed despite larger events. Everyone handles grief in their own way and you need to find the right methods and outlets for you. That could include arranging an online memorial, putting together a collection of stories about the deceased, or registering for therapy sessions. There are online groups you can join that aim to help with grief therapy, like this Facebook one with live sessions - Grief: Releasing Pain, Remembering Love & Finding Meaning.
Keeping the Plus Side
We know all too well how painful the pandemic has been for so many people. But since nothing in life is ever simple, there have been some good side effects as well. Innovation, international collaboration and compassion have certainly been on the rise, but there have been positive changes for individuals too. The pandemic might have restricted our movement, but it also forced us to sit still for probably the first time in a long time. This meant that we thought a lot more about how we live, work, and relax. That resulted in a lot of people making small or big changes to improve their well-being. For some that were eating healthier or drinking less (particularly tough during quarantine!). Some added new home workouts or tried things to improve their mental health. Others spent more time connecting with friends or focused on saving money for the future. Whatever positive things you were able to adopt during the lockdown, you probably want to avoid slipping back into old habits.
What you can do: Motivation and routine. You need to remind yourself why you initiated the positive changes and what keeping them has and will continue to do. A regular workout could help your overall fitness and prevent illness, a good diet could keep you feeling good and improve your energy, sticking to a budget help you save up enough to invest or splurge on a grand holiday (to make up for the ones you missed). Once you have agreed you want to keep going, then you need to make it routine. The more you do something and the more seamlessly it fits into your life, the more likely it is to stay. Set a regular time for working out or cooking or zooming with friends and try to keep on schedule, you can even try these tips for making things a habit. Remember, everything is possible! And you will feel so great when you do…..